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Computer Science

Helpful Tips for Searching Article Databases

Need some more assistance? Please contact the University of Dayton Roesch Library



Utilize the database’s various search features

Limiting results

Keeping track of what you've located

Requesting an article through interlibrary loan

Citation management


Creating a suitable search statement and limiting your search results are essential skills for locating the best research articles within a database. This guide will assist you with utilizing the databases available within the University of Dayton.

Some general search strategies to keep in mind

  • Use the databases appropriate to your subject. You can see a list of appropriate databases by going to the UD library page and selecting subject databases.
  • Think critically about your search terms and refine as you go along.
  • Keep track of the search terms and queries that you’ve utilized. Citation management software (see below) can be helpful for keeping organized.
  • Create a suitable search strategy using relevant keywords and controlled vocabulary (see below).
  • Utilize Boolean searching and wildcards (see below).
  • Limit search results using the functionality of the various information databases (see below).

Finding your best search terms (E.g. creating a relevant search statement)

A search statement is the query that identifies the information that you are looking for within the database.

Perhaps the most challenging part of finding the most relevant research articles is finding the best search terms for your subject. A valuable search statement will provide you with the most accurate articles pertaining to your research topic.

Tips for creating good search statements

  • Form a research question and then identify the key concepts and/or keywords from that statement. Try to identify 1-3 keywords to use for searching.
  • Identify synonyms and similar concepts for your keywords
  • Ask for help when necessary. By talking to other researchers or the Roesch Library staff, you can better understand what different keywords could be included in your search statement.

Utilize the database’s various search features

The searching interface and functionality may vary slightly among databases. That said, most databases do share a basic functionality. For example, most databases utilize Boolean Operators. By understanding Boolean Operators, you will be better able to find useful results within a database.

Helpful Video:

  • A video guide to assist University of Dayton students with Boolean searching and other helpful database tools (5:51):

Some basic boolean operators:


Search example: Developing countries OR emergent nations

Returns results that utilize either of the terms “developing countries” or “emergent nations.”

Expands search results The operator OR is particularly helpful when you want to broaden your search, especially when you want to include synonyms.


Search example:  Industrial ceramics in Indiana AND Ohio


Would return:

The history of industrial ceramics in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio


Would not return:

The history of industrial ceramics in Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio

Narrows search results AND actually narrows your search results because it provides only results that include all of the terms queried.


Search example: Industrial ceramics NOT history


Would not return:

The history of industrial ceramics in Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio

Narrows search results NOT is used to eliminate records. It eliminates a predefined term from the search results.

Other helpful search tools

Quotation Marks ("  ")

Search example: “Industrial Ceramics”

Would return the result:

The history of industrial ceramics in Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan

Would not return the result:

The industrial revolution and ceramics

Only returns results utilizing that exact phrase as it appears in the quotation marks.

The Wildcard (*)

Search example: Indust*

Returns results:

Search example: S*food

Returns results:

The * can be used anywhere in the search term to represent any characters (or no characters). It is a super easy way to conduct searches that pertain to all of the variations of a term.

Limiting results

After conducting your search query you will be able to limit your search results to better fit your research topic. You can usually find such refinement tools on the left hand side of the database’s interface after you conduct your search. Not all databases are the same and how you limit results in the database that you are using may differ.

Helpful Video:

  • A video to assist you with refining search results in article databases, locating peer-reviewed articles, and searching within your search results (2:38):

Refining search results within a database

Search within results Allows you to search for a term within your search results. This tool essentially functions like the Boolean Operator AND.
Publication Years Allows you to limit your search results based on particular years. This can be handy if you’re searching for publications within a particular date range.
Source Type
Limits results to a particular type of publication (E.g. Peer reviewed articles, conference papers, trade publications, etc.). Such limitations can be helpful when you are only trying to find peer reviewed articles.
Subject Allows you to limit your search results based on pre-defined subject topics. Limiting by subject will allow you to focus on only articles pertaining to your topic. Narrowing by subject isn’t perfect and it may eliminate pertinent articles.

Keeping track of what you’ve located

Permalinks and DOIs

The ability to properly cite and link back to the articles that you have found is essential. Permalinks and digital object identifiers (DOIs) are two persistent linking methods that will ensure that you, and other researchers, will always be able to find the article that you cited.

Permalinks Vs. Digital Object Identifiers
Permalinks within the article database

Great for your own records.

Permalinks are persistent links that will connect you to your article within the article database (such as IEEE Xplore).

Permalinks are great ways for you to have an easy access to the article within a database that UD subscribes to. Permalinks are especially helpful if you want an easy link to the full-text of an article.

That said, those outside of UD may not be able to utilize that permalink because their organization does not subscribe to that particular database.

Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs)

Great for providing other scholars with all the information about an article so they can find it within whatever database their own organization subscribes to.

Provides a persistent link to the article information (and sometimes the full text of the article) on the publisher’s website.

The standardized way of sharing links among scholars.


Video on how to link to your research articles using permalinks and DOIs (3:40)


Citation Management Software

Bibliographic software, sometimes referred to as citation management software, allows you to create, edit, and publish bibliographies relating to your papers. They can be time savers that help undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty simplify the creation of their bibliographies. In addition, they serve as an archival tool for periodic and monographic material you have researched or are planning to research.





Exporting Citations from a Database

Article databases can provide many options for exporting different types of citations. Be careful though, such generated citations often have errors.

The following video demonstrates how article databases can provide many options regarding exporting citations (and how such citations often have errors) (1:16)

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